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Proper database design is the biggest factor on performance, especially when complex SQL is needed. If the database design is designed according the the normalized forms (Codd) and proper indexes are created, by using parameterized queries performance with a real rdbms should be very good. Most database designs I look at for ERP systems are horrendous.
Sometimes, however, you have to denormalize data in order to get good performance.
Well...denormalization only makes sense if something is FIRST NORMALIZED. "Denormalizing" an already bad structure makes things go from bad to worse.While I understand where that comment comes from, technically, normalization is a logical concept and not a physical concept. :)
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